Before becoming a mom, it’s hard to grasp how a tiny human being can stir up so much change. Bringing home a baby is a lot like inviting a little tornado to live with you: no area is left unscathed. You definitely need all the support you can get, and while your partner is your main go-to, having mom friends who get what you’re going through makes a huge difference.
A UCLA study found that when a woman is under stress, her body chemically reacts by producing a desire to “tend and befriend,” meaning tend to the children and befriend other women. This tending and befriending releases the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, which is calming and stress-reducing. In short: Our female friends are stress-relievers.
It’s absolutely true that when you’re in the trenches of dealing with the intense physical and emotional changes that come with motherhood, being able to reach out to friends who are also exhausted, disheveled, and also finding their way is a spirit lifter. It keeps us from feeling alone. It reassures us our feelings and experiences are normal and that everyone is in the same boat. Girlfriends who just “get it” can pick us up in the biggest of slumps. Parenting is a big undertaking and building your “village” by way of family and friends a key to thriving: no new mom should have to go it alone.
So, if you don’t have a ready-set network of mom friends, here are some ideas to get you going:
The fastest way to meet new moms is to go where they will surely be. Check with your pediatrician or local hospital for breastfeeding support groups or classes. Also, community centers, churches, libraries, and baby shops in your area may offer, or have referrals to, mom groups you can check out.
Step right up!
Taking the initiative with moms you don’t know may feel intimidating at first, but, trust us, you’ll be glad you did. If you find you’re connecting with another mom (on the playground, or wherever!), ask for their contact info and set up a playdate. Meet at a park or a coffee shop, your home, wherever you’re both comfortable. As you meet new moms who fit right in—invite them too.
If you like the idea of meeting and moving, check online for mommy & me fitness groups. You can find a lot of fitness groups online like Stroller Strides or swimming classes. If hiking’s your thing, this nationwide organization was started by a mom looking to connect: Hike It Baby brings parents together to hike with baby in tow. You can also check yoga studios in your area for mommy/baby classes; don’t worry, your baby won’t have to do any poses, and you can relax and tend to your little one as needed.
Facebook is a great way to find support groups or post a message that you’re on the hunt for other new moms. And web apps like Momco and Hellomamas are an easy way to get matched up with moms in your neighborhood. Just plug in your address and--voila!--referrals.
On the Job
If you’re heading back to work, reach out to co-workers on maternity leave or moms on the job. Set up a time to meet before your return date. Once you start work, set up regular lunch dates with another mom. It’s also a great way to be supported during your home-to-work transition.
Basically, wherever you see moms with babies, that’s an opportunity to make new friends. If you’re at the doctor’s office, the grocery store, or just walking around the block, keep your eyes open for mamas just like you and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Chances are, the other person is exhausted, overwhelmed, and in need of support, just like you.